October 17, 2017

Convert Fireside

Okay so something really cool that happened just yesterday was the "why I believe" fireside put on by the mission in order to let some recent converts share their testimonies and lift our spirits as well as the spirits of members all over the mission. It was such a spirit filled meeting where the whole mission sang as the choir, 4 recent converts shared their story and testimony, and we also got to hear a few musical numbers from other missionaries and a few words from president savage as well. It was amazing the way music when done with the right spirit can bring such a spirit to the room. The entire mission sang a special arrangement of "this is the Christ" as well as a special arrangement of "we'll bring the world his truth."  (not the EFY medley) and during both of these numbers you could sense the testimony and conviction within the voices that sang them (even if it was voices like mine). My favorite was "this is the Christ" because I decided that as we sang i wanted to imagine Christ in the meeting as if we were singing because he had appeared. This enhanced and uplifted my experience while singing and brought to my heart a conviction of the Savior and His love for us. 
   My Email this week will be short, because I mainly just want to share with you the Love I have for my Savior and how He has changed my life. We often times think that if we grew up in the church then when we meet those that haven't we should automatically jump to our "personal conversion" story that every one of us has. But something I have come to realize is that when people ask if I have grown up in the church I ought to shout for joy and say "YES!! And do you know how good that was for my life?" and then I could continue to tell them of how the gospel and church shaped my life and made me the person I am today. I am so proud and happy to say that I was born in the Church. Christ has been shaping me through the gospel and church since I was a baby, and it has changed my life. My faith in Christ has carried me through anything and everything that has been hard or unwanted in my life. This last week I have had temporary arthritis in my left knee and it doesn't feel too grand when I walk but I am proud to say that Christ has strengthened me enough that I could go out and work every single day just as hard and as long as I would without the arthritis. One day we even played soccer with some kids and i was able to play without pain. I may have had less mobility, but there wasn't pain which was a miracle that day in my life! God is not absent today, and He never will be. There are so many people who think they are without God in their lives and this is not true. God is always there but he can't help us any more than the amount we allow Him. The nice part is that we don't have to do much more than simply reach out in order to allow Him to help us more. I hope we will all continually reach out a little further for God and His helping hand in our lives. I can promise that He is there because I am a witness of His love and mercy, I am a witness of the literal help that Christ can offer and the true friend that Christ can be to us. 

I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff 

Covenant Makers are Miracle Chasers

Hey there! Well it has been a fun and busy week as always but I feel that there was a lot of fun and a lot of success this week. We were able to go on exchanges with a companionship in the zone and that was tons of fun and we had some meetings which were pretty fun. But its really weird because i think my sense of fun has changed since i've been on my mission, or at least its been added upon I guess would be a better way of putting it because I still enjoy other things just as much. But the reason I say this is because of a certain experience I had this week while on exchanges with Elder Hartwig. We were getting ready to go and swap back to our normal companions when we saw a lady walking on the sidewalk so we stopped and talked to her and she ended up being pretty interested and said that we could come back. But at this point we are running a little late to meet our companions so we start walking a little bit faster to get back to the car. When we were almost to the car we walked past a guy out on the sidewalk smoking by his apartment and I felt that maybe i should stop and talk but then I thought of how late we were so I kept walking. I once again felt the prompting to go back and talk to him.. once again I said we were too late so we hopped in the car and I felt the prompting yet again, so this time I decided with my spirit instead of my head and I drove by him, rolled down my window and stopped... But what am I supposed to say when I'm in the car stopped in front of this guy? I can't use any of my normal phrases in this moment, so I simply relied on the spirit and told this man that God loves him as well as his family. He then walked over to the window, reached out his hand to shake mine and said "thank you for stopping, that means a lot." But unfortunately we had to go so I gave him our number and got his phone number and apartment number and then told him we would be back soon. So what does this have to do with having fun? well I have found (mostly since my mission) that when I am able to act on the promptings of the spirit and simply do things I have already promised to do (like talk to everyone) then I am filled with a sense of joy that is very similar, if not the same, as the feeling I get when I am having tons of fun. The spirit doesn't always give us gentle taps and spiritual nudges. Sometimes he makes us so excited that we cant deny our faith, he makes us so excited that we want to share the gospel and live a righteous life. But in order to feel the spirit this way we have to be willing to "be strict in the plain road" (2 nephi 4:32). I think that verse is something my mother pointed out to me before but I never really gave it much thought until just this last week when I came across it in my own studies. I think its interesting how we always talk about how simple the Gospel is but we fail to see that simpleness is not thoughtlessness or mindlessness. We must grasp the fact that yes all Lehi said to do is hold onto the iron rod, but he said to hold onto it tightly. Don't let go to meet a friend half way, or to impress a group of your peers. You can't let go of your righteous habits for five minutes while you cheat on a test, or lower your standards just for one day while you're on a school trip and your parents aren't there. This is not the time or place to fear God only when He is scaring you. This IS the time though to Love and Honor God even when we can't see Him standing there. This life is hard. We all know that in one way or another, but when Nephi told God that he wanted to be strict in the plain road he also asked God for something in return. He asked God to shut the gates of hell continually before him. I think to an extent we can ask that same thing from God in return for following Him at all times. We promise every sunday to take upon us the name of  Christ and always remember Him. Now I think we need to ask ourselves more often if what we are doing is helping us remember Christ. We will not fail and Hell cannot conquer if we are built upon that Rock which is faith in Christ. Now are we too far away from that rock to even use it as a support when the winds and storms come? or are we continually holding fast to that rock and preparing ourselves and others for those storms? 

I Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

October 8, 2017

A Week of Inspiration... Or Just 2 Days

General Conference was amazing. Gathering to hear the words of the Prophets and Apostles is always special, but this time for me was especially cool because although I was able to have personal questions answered, most of the time I was able to have others (most of which I am teaching) in mind and try to find answers for them and what I could share with them. Sad to say, many of the people who I am most concerned about are those who have already seen the light and Joy of Christ and His Gospel but they simply dont care anymore or they dont think they are good enough to keep partaking of that joy. But I think those are exactly the people I needed to have on my mind because they are the ones that so many of the talks were directed to. We received so much guidance on how we shouldnt beat ourselves up but we should simply press forward with faith and continually strive to become a little bit better every single day. God does not expect us to either be perfect or get out. This is not a pass or fail test, this is God telling us that if we strive to be better then we win every single time! This is not the work of perfection, this is the work of salvation. None of us are perfect and we never will be during this life, so our focus should be fully on how to gain favor in the Lords sight each day so that we can return to live with Him one day. And as I stated earlier, all that it takes to gain favor in his sight is to simply strive. We strive to be better, we strive to study the scriptures every single day, we strive to serve others as often as we can, and if we do this then we will soon become so caught up in the simple things of the gospel that we can no longer imagine being where we used to be on our path of righteousness.
      During Dallin H. Oaks talk a specific quote kept coming to mind. It is something that Neal A. Maxwell said in his talk "swallowed up in the will of the Father." Here's what he said: "If one minds the things of the flesh, he cannot have the mind of Christ because his thought patterns are far from Jesus, as are the desires or the intents of his heart." Now when he said this he had scripture references with it but i didnt want to type all that up too. But as I was reflecting on this quote I started to wonder how one would come to have the mind of Christ? Or how one would completely forsake minding the things of the flesh? those questions flew around in the back of my mind most of the weekend until I realized that even though that would be amazing to have the mind of Christ and not mind the things of the flesh or the world at all, that is not necessarily what we are meant to have at this time. Once again we are supposed to strive to be better every single day which means our minds will come more in alignment with Christs and we will start to avoid minding the things of the flesh but Christ was the only one who had flawless performance while on this earth and he is the only one who will; but because of that and because He also felt all of the pains and struggles we have He is now able to help us perfectly and support us and teach us and give us divine guidance in accordance with each one of our lives.  My point is not that we cant become perfect so dont even try, my point is that we may not be able to become exactly perfect right now so dont get down on yourself. Our goal is to become OUR BEST, and that is what God intends for us to become through that divine guidance from our personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

I hope we can all look through general conference again and gain more hope and confidence in ourselves and then go out and fulfill the call to continually push forward. This life is hard for every single one of us. It may be in different ways but it is still hard all the same and this means that we should never look upon ourselves as better OR worse than any other person that we see, meet, or hear about. 

I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

The Light of Christ

Alrighty, so I wanted to share a couple insights from my studies this last week. First thing that i found super interesting is the relationship between Power and the Holy Ghost. I was reading in the section of preach my gospel about "my purpose" and one of the things it was talking about was having power in my work and i had no idea what it was talking about other than simply strengthening my ability to teach by practicing the required skills in preach my gospel. But as I studied the Scriptures that were referenced i started to see that in almost all of them it says something about how they had been given their knowledge or their power through the spirit. This ignited a deep desire within me to have more power, which seems like a dirty thing that only warlords want. But through reading those scriptures that preach my gospel referenced i realized that true power, or true spiritual power i should say, comes through the spirit. Whenever we have the spirit with us we have spiritual power that others can see, so naturally whenever we have the spirit with us stronger we are also carrying with us more spiritual power. So in order to gain more power we now know that we have to have the spirit with us more and we can do that through simply doing the things that prophets and apostles have asked of us, both in the scriptures and in modern days. Now the reason I think this is so important is because I think to some extent we all want people to join us in this wonderful Gospel and feel the Joy that we feel and the way that we will be able to help others more is by growing our light so that they will see something different in us and want to find out what it is. I dont know if that made much sense. I was trying to explain what i found through my studies and im not the best at that. So lets just move on shall we? 
      So this week I have gained a stronger testimony of the light of Christ that can be found in so many people that we pass everyday. just one example of this is some young adults that are all rooming together (theres like 4 of them) in a town home. We ran into these guys a few weeks ago and they were busy and said to come back and then we went back a few days later and they were busy again and said to come back and so at this point i was wondering if they were just trying to get rid of us. But we went back just yesterday and knocked on their door and one of them opened the door and said "oh hey come on in" and so we went in and had a quick conversation before he had to go and then he apologized for cutting it short and told us to swing back by in a few days. I have no doubt that the light of Christ touched that young man yesterday and gave him the desire to invite us in. We also have several other people who arent searching for the truth of the gospel yet but they love having us come by and just talk. I used to think most of those people were lost causes and there was no point in going by, but after realizing that I myself would never accept someone elses gospel until i at least become their friend I started to put more effort into strengthening relationships by bringing in more of the light of Christ and His spirit and not just preaching about it. I have seen even in the last few weeks that people have been more open to us, the members have started caring more about our work, and the investigators have started feeling like they are more than a number. The blessings of the spirit are much more apparent when we feel it, not just hear about it.

Well, I dont have a whole lot more for this week. I have a bad memory when it comes to what has happened.

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

Transfer Week

Holy Smokes!
So let me run you through a couple things, first off I stayed in my area and I got a new companion Elder LaPerle from the Seattle area. Now heres what this week looked like at a glance.

     Monday: It was P-day but it was more like "get elder Layton ready to leave day" because I had zero time to even do anything i needed to since Elder Layton told so many people he would do things for them before her left and so i ended up just being the runner for him. And then Monday night we had to make the rounds so that he could say goodbye to people. 
     Tuesday: we had to drop Elder Layton off at the mission home and then for the rest of the day i was in a trio with the elders in the next ward over, that was a blast but we were super busy, we had to help ,ove some sisters from an apartment to a house and then we had to make sure one of the elders i was with had everything packed and ready to go for wednesday and then we had to figure out how to get his bike to transfers. It was crazy.... but not as crazy as wednesday...
      Wednesday: I had to be at our stake center by 9:30 and then once missionaries started coming who were in my zone i had to figure out how to get them and their luggage back to their living quarters, and I dont really know if I could write out everything we had to do during my email time but we were running missionaries and their luggage around from 11am till 9:30pm
      Thursday: we had to go borrow a truck from some other Elders so that we could take 5 bikes around to Elders who they belonged to in our zone, we had to deliver missing wallets, go to a district meeting and then have a bunch of lessons. 
      Friday: we had to go to another district meeting, and then go to a service project, and then we went to a lesson and once we parked our car we sar a couple trying to change their brakes on their car and so i went over and offered them a helping hand and they said they would love it because they couldnt figure out how to make the new brake pads fit. so thanks to Dad i was able to help them out and and then they let us into their home to wash our hands and share a lesson with them.
     Saturday: I cant even remember what we did that morning, but from 3:30 until 8 we had a stake fair where we just wondered around and talked to people and helped out at different booths.
      Sunday: We had church meetings until 4 and then we had dinner and then we had some lessons and talked to some people walking around at an apartment complex. 

So, Im not sure what you got out of that but what my body is telling me is that we were busy and now im tired. But the strength that the Lord gives us is so real. We got to teach seminary this morning and it was tons of fun, we only had the juniors and seniors and we talked about 1 nephi 16 and about how the Lord can give us strength and tell us what to do even in the midst of trials and hardships.  It felt weird teaching the youth who are pretty much the same age as me but it was so cool realizing that when I leave the mission field I will be leaving it in their hands and i feel so confident in that thought. I have no doubt that even those who are just behind me will be able to do things that i never could. I love knowing that we always have a choice to do good or to murmur We were talking in seminary and one of the young women said something like "well its often times a choice to be happy" and then we took that and applied it to the end of verse 20 when it says that they were exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur, so the sorrow came before the murmuring. We cant possibly expect to be happy when we are sorrowful. We all know that those are opposites. So its no wonder that two of the first songs we even learn in the church are about Jesus wanting us to be a sunbeam and turning our frowns upside down because when we are happy then we wont murmur and we will have a clear conscience in order to make important decisions and to get ourselves out of any rut or trial of life. I hope we are all able to smile and look to the lord whenever anything is about to make us sad, because thats when we will feel the very power of God lift us up and guide us along our way. He Loves us, He doesnt want us to look down on ourselves or life, He wants us to be Exceedingly grateful and rejoicing! 

Well thats all i got!
Have fun!!
Love you all.
Love. Elder Cluff 

September 16, 2017

Power in Prayer

This week I learned a lesson that will not easily be forgotten. I'm not sure if I already told all of you that Bryan Borst got baptized on saturday by Elder Layton and then yesterday I had the special opportunity to confirm him. Now, whenever I have given blessings or anything of the sort in the past I have always prayed to be given the words to speak during the blessing and I feel like the spirit has always been there to help my thoughts and words run together beautifully. But saturday night my stomach was bothering me pretty bad and that was all I was able to focus on before I went to bed, so when it came time to say a prayer before I went to bed I made it rather quick and forgot to mention the help I would need the next day to give that blessing to Bryan. The same thing happened the next morning as my stomach was still hurting and I was too selfish to really think about what would be going on later that day. I'm sad to say that I didn't truly realize what I was going to be doing until they announced it in sacrament meeting. At that point it was too late to offer much of a prayer, but I still said a prayer in my heart that even though I neglected the responsibility that I had to prepare through prayer and study, that I would still have the words given to me that I needed to speak. I then confirmed him and blessed him and I did feel that throughout the blessing my thoughts were very jumbled but I still felt the Spirit tell me something like this: "don't worry, I can still work through you to get my message across." This was a special time to me where I felt the atonement of Jesus Christ lift me above my previous selfish behavior. Even though it was a minor wrongdoing which some may say wasn't a wrongdoing at all, I felt as though Christ himself was teaching me the importance of never looking inward even when things hurt and He also taught me that there is power in prayer and that through speaking with my Heavenly Father I could have been more prepared for that sacred blessing. Now, that same day, I gained a testimony yet again of how aware God is of us and our feelings. After Church I talked with my companion about how he prepares for blessings and how he recognizes the spirit as he is giving them. He gave me some advice and then in my own mind I thought "well how will I be able to tell when my blessings are given strictly by the spirit and not my thoughts?" Literally 2 minutes later we ran into a member who was struggling in their life and they asked Elder Layton to give them a blessing. After that blessing I realized that I wanted to prepare now, and everyday, for the next blessing I would give. That night we stopped by a Less Active member who we felt we needed to offer a blessing to. She asked if I could act as voice and so I did and I felt as if the windows of heaven opened up and shouted at me words that I should speak. I have no doubt that this was Heavenly Fathers way of telling me that all I need to do is have faith and simply expect the spirit to tell me what to say as long as I am worthy. I recognized that God loves each one of us and He gives freely opportunities to grow if we search for them. Often times the hardest part of growth is just asking for those opportunities. 

Something else that I realized this week was simply that Satan is trying so hard right now to tear everyone apart. I have never seen so many broken homes and broken families as I have in the last month. I feel like every other house we go to I end up walking out and saying "holy cow, there is so much that is missing and broken in that family, how does that happen?" I have grown to love random people that we run into so much more as I have come to realize that any bad or dark situation they are in is only because they fell into something satan threw their way and now it is my calling to bring them a solution to any and all problems as long as they are willing.  Please don't let Satan get you down or tell you that you aren't worth it. One of his biggest lies is that we, in some way, aren't worth anyone's time, especially God's. Stay strong and recognize that YOU are God's child and He Loves You. 

Well, that's all I got. If it doesn't make sense.... sorry. 

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

Sushi and Sin

So, this week was pretty great! Just don't ask me why because i can never remember which stuff i did this week and which stuff i did last week... But one thing i know happened this week was we had a dinner yesterday with the relief society president in our ward and we met her at a restaurant which turned out to be a sushi restaurant!! Well I've only had sushi like twice in my life and it was just a taste i didn't think i liked; so when we got there last night and i saw that it was sushi i figured maybe its not as bad when its made the "right way" (whatever that means), and so i told sister Clancy that i hadn't really had much sushi but i was willing to go for it. She then proceeded to order a massive amount for the 3 of us and i knew after the first bite it was going to be a rough meal to force down. Now here is where the biggest problem came in--she is a super nice lady so she asked me after like two pieces if i was okay with the spice that was on it and if i liked the sushi in general. So I probably shoulda said "you know, i'm not the biggest fan." But of course i didn't say that because i'm a man and i have pride and "i can put it down, i know i can." So i continued to eat and force this stuff down while maintaining a joyful countenance, a quiet laugh/gag, and because we loved it so much she ordered some more against our will. We ate that too and then left and i couldn't stop thinking of that awful taste the rest of the night. So the reason i included this in my email is because as i was thinking about it i saw a relation to our spiritual lives. Often times we make small mistakes in our life that lead us to never want to do it again because of the awful feeling or taste we had... until our friend invites us to try it out again and tells us its super fun/good. At this point we have to make one of the most important decisions to say no right from the first before we even start. Now the reason its so important to say no right away is because if we don't, then we have to go through the humiliation of saying no after we have already said yes or we have to keep on sinning or making the same mistake until we feel that awful sense of regret from letting our pride get the best of us. I don't have any more time to explain but my hope is really that none of us will ever let others talk us into doing those things that we know are wrong!! 

Okay, I gotta go, hopefully it made sense at least a little... bye!

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff